Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City Smoothed Road for Chauffeur Influx; More Than 1,000 Inspection Permits Issued before First Team Arrived

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City Smoothed Road for Chauffeur Influx; More Than 1,000 Inspection Permits Issued before First Team Arrived

Article excerpt

Byline: MARY KELLI PALKA, The Times-Union

Efforts to prepare ahead of time for an onslaught of drivers to chauffeur Jacksonville's Super Bowl guests around town paid off for the city's motor vehicle inspectors.

Before the first football team made it into Jacksonville, the city had handed out medallions to more than 1,000 limousines, sport utility vehicles, buses, taxis and other vehicles that had passed safety and equipment inspections. That includes about 200 medallions issued within the past year to companies that work in Jacksonville even during non-Super Bowl events.

In addition to vehicle inspections, people applying for vehicle-for-hire driving permits, as well as the owner and operators of the companies, must go through a Florida background check and provide proof of insurance, said Robert Carle, chief of Jacksonville's parking facilities and enforcement division.

Executive Limousines and Transportation has operated in Jacksonville for four years. The normal number of drivers for the company is 35, but for Super Bowl week the number is up to about 180 to 200, said Michael Thompson, the company's general manager.

Thompson said he looked for many of his drivers in Jacksonville because they're the people who know the streets.

"It's going to be crazy for the people who live here because just look at all the roads in downtown Jacksonville that will be closed," Thompson said.

As for the cars, including sedans, sport utility vehicles, vans and limousines, Thompson said his company has turned to rental agencies, as well as vehicle-for-hire companies from across the country.

"There's not one city anywhere that can handle an event like this without bringing in [more cars]," Thompson said.

Some of the cars, along with some drivers, are here from Boston, Baltimore and Omaha, Neb.

"Right now, in Nebraska, the odds of a limo doing any business in the snow is low," Thompson said.

Actually, this is a slow time for limousines all over the country, said Dennis Wagner, general manager of VIP Limousine, located in Omaha and Lincoln, Neb.

That's why he was sending four or five drivers to Jacksonville for the Super Bowl. …

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